Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Kairos Speaks Wisely

As reported in a recent edition of World magazine, the editorial board of the Kairos Journal, an excellent online resource for church leaders, recently wrote a precisely crafted letter to a number of prominent Christians who have endorsed a debt cancellation program for certain African nations. Best known among the recipients was megachurch pastor Rick Warren, who has wholeheartedly endorsed the cancellations as publicized piously by Bono, everyone's favorite ballad-crooner-with-a-heart-of-gold. Amidst Warren's endorsement and cultural acclaim of the idea, the editors of Kairos pointed out several flaws in the idea, among them that the program actually rewards countries with financially irresponsible leadership and that it overlooks poor countries that have no debt and a history of fiscal care.

These are excellent points, and the Kairos Journal is to be commended for taking a stance that is unpopular at best. Sadly, it seems to me that the cancellation program involves an age-old strategy for solving problems: throw lots of money at them. Money is the answer for many. Though there is some truth in this idea, as money certainly can help things along, there is far more that needs to be considered in such matters. The hunger and disease many Africans experience stems not from a lack of money but a lack of governmental morality. Several African nations are dominated by dictators who simply refuse to help their people, preferring instead to help themselves, literally and figuratively. Sadly, it is those under them who suffer. I do hope that some good comes from this measure, though I am not as optimistic as many of this day. I'm more inclined to hope for the spread of true democracy, of morality, of the gospel and its power to transform the starving child and the indulgent official.


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